The first 28,000 doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine should arrive in Minnesota early this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.
The shipment follows three H1N1 related deaths in Minnesota over the past two weeks, all with underlying conditions, according to a Minnesota Department of Health announcement Friday.
People with underlying conditions are in the high risk group for H1N1, and will be in the second wave to receive the vaccination.
The first shipment will go “almost entirely” to health care workers, because the health department doesn’t want them to get sick or expose others who are medically vulnerable to the influenza, Dr. Doug Schultz, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, said.
“We want them to be on the job,” he said.
The vaccine arriving next week is in nasal spray form, which just happened “to get out of the shoot first,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Pregnant women, who are among the high risk group, are unable to receive the nasal spray form of the vaccination. Nationally, 28 pregnant women have died of H1N1, the CDC said Thursday.
There are five manufacturers of the vaccine, one of which manufactures the nasal spray. The other four make an injectable form, which is recommended for the general population, including pregnant women, and will be arriving in Minnesota in mid-October.
However, the first shipment was sent “a little earlier than we anticipated,” Schultz said.
Although the shipment was ahead of schedule, it did not meet the Minnesota Department of Health’s projected amount of about 50,000 doses.
The “working target,” for vaccinating the high risk populations is estimated to be around late October to early November, but now that the first supply has been sent, the department is planning to see a “snowball effect,” with the vaccine arriving in continuous small supplies until all populations are covered, Schultz said.
Initial shipments have gone to 25 other states or big cities, like Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Schultz said.
The University is waiting to hear from the Health Department, which has not yet released information on which medical facilities will receive the vaccine or how much each will get.
At Boynton Health Service , staff is going to “sit back and see what happens, how far down it goes,” Dave Golden, director of public health and marketing at Boynton, said.
The University population is primarily composed of people less than 24 years old, which are considered a high risk group, and should receive the vaccine sooner than the general population.
When the University receives a shipment for the student population they will “roll it into the next scheduled [flu] clinic,” Golden said. “We have a pretty immediate set up in mind,” he said.
Details of the vaccine delivery are uncertain for distributors, because “until we get it, we don’t know,” Dr. Elizabeth McClure, medical director at the Academic Health Center Office of Emergency Response, said.
Boynton was one of many health care facilities across the state to pre-register for the vaccine with the Minnesota Department of Health.
Boynton is “standing ready,” but has had to be flexible, because “H1N1 is a big mystery — it’s like flu in the old years,” Golden said.